Extra Flaky Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits

These amazing gluten free biscuits tick every single box: they’re soft, flaky and buttery, rise beautifully in the oven, and are also super easy to make. They’re everything a buttermilk biscuit should be and you couldn’t possibly guess that they’re gluten free!

Gluten free biscuits on a white dessert plate.

Today, we’re in the world of flaky butteriness – yes, we’re talking buttermilk biscuits. The gluten free edition.

And oh my goodness, these should really come with a warning. Especially when they’re still warm out of the oven (and when your whole kitchen smells like butter), it’s way too easy to demolish half of them just standing over the counter.

Yes, they’re that good.

They’re soft, tender, buttery and perfectly flaky, the very definition of an ideal buttermilk biscuit. They come out of the oven nice and tall, with a gorgeous golden brown colour. And have I mentioned that they make your kitchen smell like the most amazing, butter-filled bakery??

On top of all that, they’re also incredibly easy to make. An extra laminating step ensures next-level flakiness, but even that is as easy as dividing the dough into four pieces and stacking them on top of each other. Really, as long as you keep your biscuit dough cold, gluten free biscuit perfection is practically guaranteed.

Now, before we get to the actual process of how to make them, let’s first have a look at what “biscuits” actually are – or, rather, which meaning of the word I’m referring to in this blog post and recipe.

Gluten free biscuits in a dish towel lined bowl.

What are biscuits?

“Biscuits” have two different meanings, depending on where in the world you are.

In the UK, “biscuits” are cookies – be that digestive biscuits or shortbread biscuits or some other delicious form of what I usually call “cookies” on this blog.

In the US, “biscuits” are a type of quick bread, which means that they’re leavened with raising agents such as baking powder and/or baking soda rather than with yeast. They’re soft and buttery and flaky, and can be either savoury or sweet. For example, I’ve previously used biscuits as part of my Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake recipe.

As is probably fairly obvious, we’re talking about American flaky buttermilk biscuits today (gluten free, of course). And let me tell you: they’re AMAZING.

Side note: scones vs biscuits

There’s also the ongoing debate about the difference between scones and biscuits. Both are quick breads, but the general consensus seems to be that biscuits are flakier and typically made with buttermilk, whereas scones are more crumbly and less flaky and also usually made with milk or cream instead of buttermilk.

I personally prefer the flaky texture of biscuits (which is why the gluten free scone recipe in my cookbook, Baked to Perfection, is also on the flakier side) but both are delicious in their own right.

Okay, now that we know what they are, here’s how you make THE BEST gluten free buttermilk biscuits.

Gluten free biscuits on a small serving plate, one is torn in half.

Before we get to the bits and bobs of making these wonderful biscuits – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!

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Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.

How do you make gluten free biscuits?

Making perfectly flaky, buttery gluten free buttermilk biscuits is actually incredibly easy. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s even easier than making biscuits with regular wheat all-purpose flour, simply because you don’t need to worry about overworking the dough and developing the gluten.

Below, I’ve outlined all the steps and all the important details you need to keep in mind when making perfectly flaky gluten free biscuits – along with plenty of step-by-step photos, so you’ll know exactly what your biscuit dough should look like at every stage.

Making the dough: use frozen butter

When making the gluten free biscuit dough, the main thing is to keep everything as cold as possible. The butter should be grated frozen, straight out of the freezer and used as soon as possible (or you can pre-grate it and keep it in the freezer until needed). The buttermilk should be very cold, straight out of the fridge.

And if you’re working in a particularly warm kitchen, you can even chill the mixing bowl and the gluten free flour blend in the fridge before you start preparing the biscuits.

Then, you should work as quickly as possible – you don’t want your biscuit dough to warm up and the butter in the dough to soften, as that will destroy all the flakiness that you want to achieve. If at any point you feel like your dough is getting too warm or the butter too soft, wrap or cover the dough in cling film and chill it in the fridge for about 15 minutes before continuing on with the next step.

To make the gluten free biscuit dough:

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients until well combined: gluten free flour blend, sugar, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. Add the grated frozen butter.
  3. Use a fork to toss the grated butter with the dry ingredients – you want all the butter pieces to be coated in a layer of flour. If there are any larger clumps of butter, break them up.
  4. Add the cold buttermilk.
  5. Use the fork to mix the dough – you want both the dry and the wet ingredients as evenly distributed as possible, so that most of the flour is hydrated by the buttermilk.
  6. Once the dough starts clumping together, give it a quick knead by hand until it only just comes together in a ball (it’s OK if it’s a bit crumbly or slightly dry in places, so long as it’s not completely crumbling and falling apart).

The 6-step process of making gluten free biscuit dough.

Laminating the dough: creating layers and flakiness

The idea behind this step is to create even more layers and flakiness in the biscuits – much like you would laminate puff pastry or croissants through a series of folds. Here, I borrowed the technique used by Claire Saffitz in the Bon Appetit biscuit recipe.

To laminate the gluten free biscuits:

  1. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat it all together into one disc.
  2. Roll it out gently to a thickness of about ¾-1 inch (2-2.5cm).
  3. Try to keep the dough as square as possible – use a bench scraper to straighten out the sides.
  4. Use the bench scraper (or a knife) to cut the dough into 4 approximately equal pieces.
  5. Stack the pieces on top of each other – this multiplies the number of butter-dough layers in the final biscuits and makes them extra flaky.
  6. Pat down the stack and roll it out until it’s again about about ¾-1 inch (2-2.5cm) thick. You don’t need to worry about keeping it square or rectangular, as you’ll use a round cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits.

The 6-step process of laminating gluten free biscuit dough.

Cutting out the biscuits

Use a round cookie cutter, about 2 ½ inch (6.5cm) in diameter to cut out the biscuits. Dip the cookie cutter into flour between cutting to prevent the biscuits from getting stuck.

Don’t twist the cookie cutter while cutting – make sure to just press it straight down. Twisting will squash together and disrupt the layers in the dough, which can interfere with how the biscuits rise in the oven.

Cutting out gluten free biscuits with a round cookie cutter.

Re-using the scraps

Because you’re cutting out round biscuits, you’ll inevitably be left with scraps (if you want to avoid them, you can roll out the laminated biscuit dough into an rough rectangle and use a knife to cut it up into a 3×4 grid of 12 square/rectangular biscuits).

You can re-use the scraps/cut-offs: place them on top of each other and pat them down, then re-roll and cut out the biscuits. The biscuits made from scraps will be slightly less flaky (and might rise slightly less in the oven) than the original biscuits, but they will be just as delicious.

Re-using the scraps to make more biscuits.

Freeze them before baking!

At this point, you’ve handled the biscuits quite a bit – so, in order to achieve maximum rise and flakiness, it’s best to freeze them for 15-20 minutes before baking. This will firm up the butter in the dough, ensuring that you get well-defined layers and a beautiful rise in the oven.

Just place the cut out biscuits onto a lined baking sheet or tray, cover with cling film and freeze for about 15-20 minutes.

Gluten free biscuits on a lined baking sheet ready for freezing.

Baking the gluten free biscuits

Once thoroughly chilled, it’s time to bake the buttermilk biscuits:

  1. Place the biscuits next to each other on the baking sheet, so that they’re only just touching. This will help them rise higher.
  2. Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter or extra buttermilk.
  3. And then: bake! I bake them at 375ºF (190ºC) for about 20-24 minutes on the upper middle oven rack, until they’re well risen and golden brown on top.

The 3-step process of assembling and baking gluten free biscuits.

Immediately out of the oven: brush with extra butter

Now, this step is optional but I really recommend that you brush the piping hot biscuits with some melted butter immediately after taking them out of the oven.

This gives them a richer flavour, and also makes them softer (and keeps them that way for longer).

Brushing gluten free biscuits with melted butter.

Top tips for perfect gluten free buttermilk biscuits

Why is it important to keep the ingredients and the biscuit dough cold?

The primary reason for this is to get the maximum possible flakiness and rise in the baked biscuits. Essentially, two things are responsible for their rise: the raising agents (baking powder and baking soda) and the lamination – that is, the butter-dough layers.

If you look at the composition of butter, about 15% of its total weight is water. So, when the biscuits encounter the high heat of the oven, the butter in the butter layers rapidly melts and the water in it transforms into steam, which forces the dough layers apart. This, in turn, causes the biscuits to rise and also gives them their characteristic (and incredibly delicious) flakiness.

By keeping the ingredients and the biscuit dough as cold as possible at every step of the process, you’re ensuring that the butter pieces keep intact and don’t melt while you’re handling the dough.

If your biscuit dough (and therefore the butter in the dough) gets too warm, the butter will melt and mix with the rest of the ingredients while you’re handling it – that is, before the biscuits actually enter the oven. This will result in greasy and dense biscuits with no flakiness in sight.

If you keep your biscuit dough cold, on the other hand, the butter-dough layers and the lamination are preserved throughout, and the butter in the dough will melt only when the biscuits enter the oven. Thus, you’ll get a good rise on your biscuits, as well as the optimal flaky, tender texture.

How do I make my biscuits extra flaky?

There are two main aspects of this recipe that make the biscuits extra flaky: keeping the butter in the dough cold and lamination.

I’ve already explained the importance of the first one above, so let’s have a look at the second – the lamination. Much like when it comes to making (rough) puff pastry or croissant dough, the secret behind flakiness is creating a large number of butter-dough layers.

In this gluten free biscuit recipe, this is achieved by rolling out the initial dough, cutting it into four equal pieces, stacking them together, compressing them into a disc and then rolling the dough out again. This basically multiplies the number of butter-dough layers by a factor of 4 and results in ultra flaky biscuits.

How do I make my biscuits taller?

There are several things you should keep in mind if you want to make sure that your biscuits rise nicely in the oven.

First of all: follow my advice above for keeping the biscuits flaky – the same factors that make them flaky (keeping everything cold and lamination) also help them rise during baking.

Secondly, don’t roll the biscuits too thin – they need to be at least ¾ inch (2cm) thick to rise properly.

Finally, arrange the biscuits on the baking sheet so that they’re lightly touching. This serves two purposes: the biscuits essentially “support” each other as they bake and help each other rise higher, and their proximity also prevents their sides from drying out in the oven (which results in both taller and softer biscuits).

Gluten free biscuits on a white dessert plate, with one biscuit torn in half.

And that’s it! This is everything you need to know in order to make THE FLAKIEST gluten free biscuits (ever). Now, as per usual, this has turned out to be a rather long post, but I do hope it’s not too overwhelming.

Although I’ve included lots of information, making the actual biscuits is incredibly simple. Just make sure to follow the recipe, keep everything cold and soon you’ll be enjoying your own beautiful, golden brown, perfectly flaky biscuits.

I hope you’ll love them as much as I do.

Happy baking!

Signature of the author, Kat.

Spooning strawberry jam onto a biscuit.

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Extra Flaky Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits

These amazing gluten free biscuits tick every single box: they’re soft, flaky and buttery, rise beautifully in the oven, and are also super easy to make. They’re everything a buttermilk biscuit should be and you couldn’t possibly guess that they’re gluten free!

Course Appetizer, Breakfast, Lunch or dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine Gluten Free
Prep Time 45 minutes
Bake/Cook Time 20 minutes
Chill Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 12 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 360 g (3 cups) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour, which doesn't contain xanthan gum. You can also mix your own blend from 50% white rice flour, 30% potato starch and 20% maize flour by weight. **Note that maize flour in the UK is equivalent to corn flour in the US.**)
  • 1 ½ tsp xanthan gum (Reduce to ¾ tsp if your gluten free flour already contains xanthan gum.)
  • 1 tbsp granulated or caster/superfine sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 170 g (1 ½ sticks) frozen unsalted butter, grated
  • 260 g (1 cup + 1 ½ tbsp) cold buttermilk
  • 2-3 tbsp melted unsalted butter, for glazing

Instructions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the upper middle position, pre-heat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC) and line a baking sheet with baking/parchment paper.

  2. Whisk together the gluten free flour blend, xanthan gum, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until evenly combined.  

  3. Add the grated frozen butter and use a fork to toss the butter together with the dry ingredients – you want all the butter pieces to be coated in a layer of flour. If there are any larger clumps of butter, break them up.

  4. Add the cold buttermilk and use the fork to mix it into the dry ingredients – you want both the dry and the wet ingredients as evenly distributed as possible, so that most of the flour is hydrated by the buttermilk.

  5. Once the dough starts clumping together, give it a quick knead by hand until it only just comes together in a ball (it’s OK if it’s a bit crumbly or slightly dry in places, so long as it’s not completely crumbling and falling apart).

  6. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat it all together into a disc.

  7. Roll it out gently to a thickness of about ¾-1 inch (2-2.5cm). Try to keep the dough as square as possible – use a bench scraper to straighten out the sides.

  8. Use the bench scraper (or a sharp knife) to cut the dough into 4 approximately equal pieces. Stack the pieces on top of each other, then pat down the stack and roll it out until it’s again about about ¾-1 inch (2-2.5cm) thick. You don’t need to worry about keeping it square or rectangular, as you’ll use a round cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits.

    Tip: This laminating step helps to create even more butter-dough layers and flakiness in the biscuits – much like you would laminate puff pastry or croissant dough through a series of folds. 

  9. Use a round cookie cutter, about 2 ½ inch (6.5cm) in diameter to cut out the biscuits. Dip the cookie cutter into flour between cutting to prevent the biscuits from getting stuck. Re-roll or flatten any scraps to make more biscuits, this recipe makes a total of 10-12 biscuits, depending on how thick you roll the dough.

    Tip: Don’t twist the cookie cutter while cutting – make sure to just press it straight down. Twisting will squash together and disrupt the layers in the dough, which can interfere with how the biscuits rise in the oven.

  10. Place the biscuits onto a lined baking sheet, cover with cling film and freeze for 15-20 minutes.

    Tip: The freezing helps to achieve the maximum rise and flakiness by firming up the butter in the dough.

  11. Once chilled, arrange the biscuits on the baking sheet so that they lightly touch each other (this will help them rise higher).

  12. Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter.

  13. Bake at 375ºF (190ºC) for about 20-24 minutes on the upper middle oven rack, until they’re well risen and golden brown on top. If your oven bakes unevenly, you can rotate the baking sheet after about 15 minutes.

    Tip: The oven temperature of 375ºF (190ºC) gives the best rise and flake, and the softest biscuits. Baking them on the upper middle rack prevents the bottoms of the biscuits from browning too much, while also giving nice golden brown tops.

  14. Immediately out of the oven, brush the hot biscuits with extra melted butter. Ideally, serve still warm.

  15. Storage: The gluten free biscuits are at their best still warm or on the day of baking. But they can be kept in a closed container at room temperature for 3-4 days. I recommend briefly reheating the biscuits in the microwave (for 10-15 seconds) on days 3 and 4, which will return them to their original softness.

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